ResearchResearch projects
Competitiveness through R&D internationalization: patent- and interview data based studies on a latecomer in the telecommunications industry.

Competitiveness through R&D internationalization : patent- and interview data based studies on a latecomer in the telecommunications industry.

Team:  Kerstin J. Schaefer, M. Sc.
Year:  2020
Sponsors:  German Academic Exchange Service, Leibniz University Graduate Academy
Lifespan:  2015 - 2020
Is Finished:  yes

In recent years, we have been observing an increase in knowledge-intensive activities from emerging market latecomer companies in established centers of state-of-the-art knowledge. This new direction of research and development (R&D) internationalization is still an under-researched strategy for latecomers to gain competitive advantage. In order to uncover these mechanisms, this dissertation uses the case of a Chinese latecomer that recently achieved a leading position in the global telecommunications market: Huawei Technologies. The focus of this dissertation is on the mechanisms that enabled the company to obtain strategic assets through R&D internationalization into leading markets. In a mixed-methods approach, quantitative patent data and qualitative interviews are combined to trace the company’s development during its emancipation from a latecomer stage to an industry leader. The results show that Huawei does its most influential R&D at its offshore locations despite the risks and challenges of having core assets abroad. By doing so, the company focuses on greenfield investments instead of acquisitions by hiring experts at offshore locations. This way, Huawei leverages the experts’ embeddedness in the networks of the global telecommunications industry, which helps the company to overcome liabilities of outsidership as well as challenges of legitimacy and become part of the global industry community. Since the company has caught up on technological and organizational knowledge, it now splits its R&D tasks between research in centers of state-of-the-art technologies and development in China, in order to transfer innovative ideas from abroad to its domestic locations. Thus, the company gains output capability by bridging the lack of innovative capability at its domestic R&D location by employing experienced and creative experts at its offshore locations.

Publications

  • Schaefer, K. J. (2020): Catching-up by Hiring: The Case of Huawei. Journal of International Business Studies.
    DOI: 10.1057/s41267-019-00299-5
  • Schaefer, K. J. (2020): Competitiveness through R&D internationalization: patent- and interview data based studies on a latecomer in the telecommunications industry. Hannover: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität, Dissertation, DOI: 10.15488/9239
  • Liefner, I.; Si, Y.-F.; Schäfer, K. (2019): A latecomer firm's R&D collaboration with advanced country universities and research institutes: The case of Huawei in Germany. Technovation 86-87, 3-14.
  • Schaefer, K.J.; Liefner, I. (2017): Offshore versus domestic: Can EM MNCs reach higher R&D quality abroad? In: Scientometrics, Vol. 113 (3), 1349-1370. DOI: 10.1007/s11192-017-2533-5

Presentations to Scientific Audiences

  • Schaefer, K. J.: "Give us ideas!" - Bridging lack of innovativeness through R&D internationalization? 5th Geography of Innovation Conference in Stavanger, Norway, January 2020.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: "Give us ideas!" – Splitting research and development to bridge lack of innovativeness. Young Economic Geographers Network Workshop in Umea, Sweden, August 2019.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Beyond “learning-by-hiring” – The role of offshore experts in latecomer catching up. Academy of International Business Annual Meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, June 2019.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Vom Latecomer zum Global Player dank Forschungs- und Entwicklungsinternationalisierung? Der Fall Huawei. 15. Rauischholzhausener Symposium zur Wirtschaftsgeographie, 25. bis 27. April 2019, Rauischholzhausen, Germany.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: "Give us ideas!" – Splitting research and development to bridge lack of innovativeness. AAG Annual Meeting in Washington, USA, April 2019.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: "Give us ideas!" - Bridging lack of innovativeness through R&D internationalization? IIDEOS Doktorandenkolloquium in Kassel, 19.02.2019.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Unfolding “learning-by-hiring” – The role of offshore experts in latecomer catch-up. Economic Geography Research Seminat at Universiteit Utrecht, December 2018.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Unfolding “learning-by-hiring” – Die Rolle ausländischer FuE-Experten im globalen Aufholprozess. Arbeitskreis Industriegeographie in Naurod-Niedernhausen, November 2018.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Beyond “learning-by-hiring” – the role of offshire experts in latecomer catch-up. iBEGIN conference in Philadelphia, October 2018.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Offshore experts and global knowledge flows. Global Conference on Economic Geography in Cologne, July 2018.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Offshore experts and global knowledge flows. Young Economic Geographers Network in Lindlar (Cologne), July 2018.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: The role of local inventors in global knowledge absorption by latecomer companies: Can money buy knowledge? Geography of Innovation Conference in Barcelona, January 2018.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Beyond “learning-by-hiring” – the value of local experts for emerging market firms’ catch-up. iBEGIN conference in Venice, 18./19.12.2017.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Knowledge-seeking through R&D internationalization: patent data based studies on merging market multinationals. Young Economic Geographers Network in Goslar, 20.-23. July 2017.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Knowledge-seeking through R&D internationalization: patent data based studies on merging market multinationals. University of California in Los Angeles, May 2017.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Offshore vs. domestic: Erreichen MNEs höhere FuE-Qualität im Ausland? IIDEOS Doktorandenkolloquium in Hannover, November 2016.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Offshore vs. domestic: Erreichen MNEs höhere FuE-Qualität im Ausland? Arbeitskreis Industriegeographie in Naurod-Niedernhausen, 27.10.2016.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Emerging market multinationals’ knowledge-seeking through global R&D activities. International PhD Workshop on Economic Geography in Utrecht, 12.09.2016.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Does offshore R&D lead to higher patent quality than domestic R&D? Insights from an emerging market multinational. East China Normal University in Shanghai, June 2016.
  • Schaefer, K. J.: Does offshore R&D lead to higher patent quality than domestic R&D? Insights from an emerging market multinational. AAG Annual Meeting in San Francisco, 29.03.2016.